Russian History: The Romanoff Dynasty
Tsar Mihail Fyodorovich
Tsar Mihail Fyodorovich was aided by his father Patriarch Filaret and the government council. He helped organize internal affairs and made peace with the Polish and the Swedish.
Tsar Aleksei Mihailovich
In 1645, Mihail Fyodorovich died and his son Aleksei Mihailovich became ruler. He too called together a government council to straighten or fix old laws. The new book of laws was called "Administrative Findings."
During Aleksei Mihailovich’s rule, on the river Don, a group of rebel peasants gathered to oppose the King. The King’s soldiers disbanded the group and tortured their leader, Stephan Razin.
During the time of Patriarch Nikon, it was noted that many of the church’s literature/books, that had been recopied, had many mistakes. In order to correct the mistakes, the Patriarch gathered a council and they agreed to invite the educated Greeks to help fix the mistakes. But, part of the people did not accept theses changes and continued to follow the old books. With this, there was a division in the church, and there came about the "old believers."
At this time, in western Ukraine, the Cossack Russians were under attack by the Catholics from Poland and Latvia. Their leader was Bogdan Hmelnitsky. When the Cossacks began having trouble fighting the Catholics, they asked the Tsar Aleksei Mihailovich to accept Ukraine under the rule of Moscow, to fall under their protection. At first the Tsar hesitated, because he knew it would start a war with Poland, but then in 1654, Ukraine joined under the rule of Russia.
During Tsar Aleksei Mihailovich’s rule, many foreigners started to come to Moscow bringing a lot of Western (European) influence.
After the Tsar’s death, the imprisonment of Tsaritsa Sofia in the monastery, and two violent uprisals, Tsar Peter I (the Great) took to the throne and began to rule the country himself.
Peter I (The Great)
Peter I was known as the great reformer of Russia. He accepted the foreigners for the sake of strengthening Russia, in science, art, business, and trade.
Tsar Peter I pointed out that Russia needed a trade outlet to the sea. With this goal in mind, he built a small naval fleet and attacked the Turkish fortress Azov at the mouth of the river Don.
He then announced war on the Swedish King Carl XII. The Great Northern war lasted 21 years. The battle of Poltava in 1709 was one of the most glorious victories the Russians had over the Swedish. At the end of the battle, at the sign of peace, Sweden forfeited forever all the Old Russian territories and agreed to keep their borders to the shores of the Baltic Sea and Finland.
Tsar Peter I built a strong navy fleet, started s military draft, initiated taxes, opened many schools, built many factories, and strengthened trade. He changed the Patriarchy and founded the "Sacred Synod" as well as founded the ruling senate instead of the upper class Boyar rulers.
Peter I died in 1725 and did not name a predecessor. For the next 15 years, 5 different Tsars and Tsaritsas exchanged the throne.
Tsaritsa Elizabeth Petrovna
In 1741, Peter the Great’s daughter, Elizabeth Petrovna, was asked to be the ruler. Her request to rule was enforced by the senate. When she came into power, she removed the foreigners from the senate and replaced them with intelligent and talented Russians.
During her rule, there was no torture or death penalties. Banks were opened to help trade. In Moscow, the first university was opened and in Petersburg, an art academy.
Elizabeth Petrovna was a very pious and religious ruler. She spent much of her time restoring and decorating churches. She also made the church literature accessible to the public.
Katherine II (The Great)
After the successful war on Turkey, Russia received the land colonized by the Orthodox White Russians south of the country between the rivers Boog and Dnestr. And was even more important was the right to enter the Black Sea, through the Bosfor and Dardanelle Straights.
During Katherine’s rule, there was a great development of agriculture and trade routes. Empress Katherine wanted to imitate the work of Peter the Great. She also believed in the unavoidable battles over the seas. Peter I invaded through the Baltic Sea, where as Katherine acquired the Northern shores of the Black and Azov seas, as well as combined Krim with Russia. It was just as important to her as it was to Peter the Great to expand Russia.
Even in her personal life Katherine tried to imitate Peter I. She arose early in the morning, did not wake up the servants, lit the fireplace, and sat down to handle government business. Katherine was convinced that an enormous country like Russia should be ruled by a strong, single-powered ruler, and she being very energetic, took all aspects of ruling into her own hands.
Katherine wrote her famous work "Nakaz" ( meaning Order or Mandate) where she explained the laws should be fair, kind, and equal for all classes, including the peasants. She said that it is better to free 10 guilty, than to torture one innocent, and that we should not punish crimes, but rather to notice good behavior. During Katherine’s rule, the torture penalty was abolished.
In 1773, there began a revolt with the Cossacks on the Ural. They were lead by as man named Emelyan Pugachyev., a runaway Cossack from the Don River area. He pretended to be the murdered emperor, Peter III, the late husband of Katherine the Great. In 1774, the revolt was suppressed and Pugachyev was executed.
Saint Seraphim Sarovsky
During this difficult time on Orthodoxy, the Lord sent Russia the great Saint and teacher, Seraphim Sarovsky. Since early childhood, the Lord protected him. Once when he was a child, he fell from a high bell tower, and was left unhurt after receiving healing from the Kurskov Icon of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God. At 18 years old, he became a monk and joined the monastery, where he lived a life of fasting and prayer. He performed many miracles in life and after death.
Tsar Pavel I
After Katherine the Great’s death, her son, Pavel I, took the throne. He found it very important to establish a strict ascension to the throne policy and made a law that the throne only be passed from the father to his eldest son. And if the King had no heirs, then the throne would go to his next eldest brother.
Tsar Pavel only ruled for 5 years, but during this time, he considerably bettered the fate of the peasants. He made a law that peasants could not be forced to work their owner’s land for more then 3 days a week, and did not have to do any work on Sundays or Holidays.
But there was a conspiracy against Pavel I, by the leadership of a Petersburg governor, Count Palenom, and Pavel’s tragic death left his eldest son, Alexander, surprisingly as the new Tsar.
Tsar Alexander I
In 1801, the eldest son of Pavel I, Alexander, took the throne. He received an excellent education growing up, under the supervision of his grandmother, Katherine the great.
During the early years of his rule, he spent a lot of his time addressing questions regarding the peasants, although he did not free them. He did, however, do all he could do to better their livelihood, including allowing those landowners that wanted, could free their peasants and give them land.
At this time in history, the French Emperor Napoleon, was attacking almost all of Europe. Although there was a peace treaty signed with Russia, Napoleon decided in 1812 to attack Russia, without a declaration of war. He attacked Moscow, but was forced to retreat, because Moscow was set on fire and there were little supplies for Napoleon to replenish his stock. The Russian army, under the leadership of Mihail Hillarion Kutuzov, chased the French army all the way back to Paris, freeing all those countries that Napoleon had invaded.
During the first half of the 19th century (early/mid 1800’s) Russia’s borders continued to expand. This included land in Poland, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Georgia. Siberia also grew into a more developed territory.
In 1825 began the Decembrist uprising, named because it began in December. They wanted to end the monarchy and start a constitution, convincing the people it was for the best. They arrested the protestors, 5 were tortured and the rest were sent to Siberia.
Tsar Nikolai I
Tsar Nikolai I was a very faithful, brave and methodical man with a strong personality. He was against all of the new reformations and believed that it was mandatory to strengthen and better the existing order. The book of laws "Administrative Findings" had not been updated since it was first written during Tsar Aleksei Mihailovich’s rule and there were a lot of rules that contradicted each other. Tsar Nikolai I commissioned his minister, Spiransky, to fix the book and bring order to all of the laws.
During Tsar Nikolai’s rule, there was a war with Persia and those that lived on the Caucus Mountains. There was also an uprising in Poland that needed to be dealt with. On top of that, Tsar Nikolai I had to go to war with Turkey twice. The first was successful, but the second was not. Russia lost the fort Sebastopol and Nikolai I died. The throne was left to Nikolai’s eldest son, Alexander II.
Tsar Alexander II
Tsar Alexander II’s rule began in 1855. In 1861, Alexander II changed the peasant law or the law regarding indentured servants, basically freeing the peasants from their landowners’ bonds. He was named the "Tsar of Freedom."
During his rule, Alexander II again had to fight with Poland, who was trying to invade the Western lands of Russia. Alexander II ended the long and difficult war with the Causus’ and again had to go to war with Turkey, this time to free the Slavs.
Even though Alexander II did a lot for the bettering of the lives of the peasants, there grew a revolt against the monarchy of Russia. After many attempts on Alexander II’s life, in 1881 terrorists bombed the coach Alexander II was in. He died in the palace in front of his family. A beautiful church "Spas na Krovi" was built on the site where he was bombed.
Tsar Alexander III
Tsar Alexander III was the second eldest son of Tsar Alexander II. His eldest son died at a very young age. Alexander III was very strict and decisive in ruling Russia. All of Europe respected and regarded him. The economy grew in Russia during Alexander III’s rule and many railroads were built throughout Russia. In the 13 years that Alexander III ruled, he did not go to war once and so he was called the "peacemaker"."
Alexander III was certain that a revolution would ruin Russia. During his rule, there was a strict law against starting a revolution. Many measures were taken to better the lives of the public. It was Alexander III’s task to raise the prosperity of Russia. During his rule, he opened many schools, as well as peasant banks, which gave loans for the purchase, enlargement and betterment of land plots. Alexander III died early in his rule, about 50 years of age, and his son, Nikolai II, the last Tsar of Russia, took the throne.
Emperor Nikolai II
Emperor Nikolai II had the same views as his father, Alexander II, that they must better the livelihood of the Russians. He also felt Russia needed to expand its Asian ports through the Pacific Ocean. Aside from sharing his father’s views, Nikolai II was not as strict and sure as his father and he had to deal with a lot of tough decisions and often had to turn to those around him for advice.
The Russians thought the government was turning towards making a constitution and were upset that the emperor was being more conservative and not leaning towards a new constitution.
In 1894, Japan attacked China and took hold of the fort Port Arthur. Russia hindered Japan from holding the fort and soon took the fort from China for themselves. It was important for Russia to obtain this fort, which was an opening to the Pacific Ocean. The only other fort they had was Vladivostok, which was covered in ice for several months out of the year.
In 1904, Japan surprise attacked Port Artur and Russia was not prepared. Japan simultaneously attacked Russia’s freighter "Varyag" and their canonship "Koreets". Both were sunken. Japan took hold of the waters between the mainland and Port Artur and most of Russia’s army could not aide in the attacks. Russians had hope, though, because of the Admiral Markov, a seasoned war hero, but after army attacks, the ship Markov was on was sunken and Markov perished with the ship. Japan did not give up and in August 1905, with the Americans playing the role of a mediator, a treaty was signed in Portsmouth, USA. Russia had to give Japan the rights to Korea, Port Artur, and other surrounding territories, including Russia leaving Manchuria.
During the war with Japan, there were many revolutionary uprisings in Russia and lots of revolutionary propaganda. Strikes and walkouts began in Russian factories. Nikolai II had to choose, either give into a constitutional order or stop the disorder with armed forces.
On October 17th, 1905, Nikolai II signed a manifest that put a new Governmental Council in power and no law could be passed without their consent, thus instating a new constitution. The chairman of the council was named Peter A. Stolipin. He made a law that the peasants could get their own land because he believed this would prevent the peasants from revolting. The revolutionaries knew Stolipin was right and so they killed him in1911.
In 1914, World War I began. Europe was divided into two groups. Germany, Italy, and Austria were in one. Russia, England, and France were in the other. Russia aided the Serbian people and mobilized their troupes there. Germany wanted them to withdraw and Russia refused and so on June 19th 1914, Germany declared war on Russia. Then, Germany attacked Paris and Russia sent their troupes and saved France. In spring 1915, Russia’s war supplies were low, so they had to hold back, but in the fall, when the supplies were back up, Nikolai II, himself, took charge and he and his allies attacked full force.
The war continued for two years and although Russia was winning, the soldiers were losing their spirit and there was revolutionary propaganda all throughout Russia. On February 24th, 1916, in Petrograd, there was a revolt due to hunger and lack of bread. At this the revolutionaries took power, killed many officials, and told Nikolai II that his only choice was to abdicate the throne. On March 2nd, 1917, Nikolai II signed a manifest releasing his right to rule. Then when Nikolai II was returning home to his family, he was arrested. At first, the royal family was sent to Tobolsk, Siberia, but then they were transferred to Yekaterininburg in the house "Ipatiev". On July 17th 1918, the head of security, Yurovsky, woke up the royal family and sent them to the basement. The family and their close friends were executed. Their remains were dosed in the sulfuric acid and buried deep in the woods, 20 kilometers from Yekaterininburg.
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The Third Rome. Holy Russia, Tsarism and Orthodoxy (Matthew Raphael Johnson>